Napoleonic firearms vs pre-18th century firearms

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,654
This is strictly my opinion, but in a situation like Little Big Horn where you're facing a more numerous opponent, I'd much rather have a weapon with a greater volume of fire, to counterbalance my weakness in numbers, than one that could hit hard at longer range.

As you say, the whole repeater vs. single-shot breech loader debate does depend a lot on the situation in question. From my perspective (the use of firearms by indigenous North Americans), I think the Winchester repeaters were better suited to the types of warfare carried out by groups like the Sioux and Nez Perce than something like the "Trapdoor" Springfield.
if you outnumbered and particularly facing a mounted opponent who can close the range quite quickly, hit and run , mounted skirmishing is leaning heavily to the strengths of the Winchester. But Armies are generally making their overall main infantry weapon choice being dictated by situations which are NOT that situation.
 
May 2019
218
Earth
facing a mounted opponent who can close the range quite quickly, hit and run
Well, for the 19th century US Army, a significant number of the conflicts they participated in were against just those types of opponents. That's why, imo, they might have come up with a better military issue rifle than the one they had ca. 1870s...
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,480
South of the barcodes
Imo if you're going for long range, something like a Remington Rolling Block would have been a decent choice. But the US Army was using the "Trapdoor" Springfield even in mid-range combat against indigenous opponents armed with Winchester repeaters. I know which gun I'd want in those circumstances; Winchester by a long shot (no pun intended).
The Winchester/Henry system isnt any faster to use than the Springfield, in both systems you have single cartridges on a belt that have to be pulled out of the belt, loaded into the gun and then the lever action racked.

The Henry has the advantage that you can load a dozen rounds so you can dump a dozen rounds of rapid fire into a target but then you have to slowly load twelve rounds into the tube, it has a disadvantage in range, hitting power and increased complexity.

Basically when soldiers will be carrying all their ammunition on their horse and are three weeks hard riding from an armourer simplicity won!
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,654
Well, for the 19th century US Army, a significant number of the conflicts they participated in were against just those types of opponents. That's why, imo, they might have come up with a better military issue rifle than the one they had ca. 1870s...
Conflicts they won. Thet they were not seriously challenged in. Sure tough if your the guys who do some perhaps unnecessary dying.
But the wider stregaic view it can be argued that the choise of rifle should be dictated by relatively small scale conflicts, that possible larger scale conflicts even if onlly theoritical were a more important in dictating arms choice.
 
May 2019
218
Earth
The Henry has the advantage that you can load a dozen rounds so you can dump a dozen rounds of rapid fire into a target but then you have to slowly load twelve rounds into the tube, it has a disadvantage in range, hitting power and increased complexity.

Basically when soldiers will be carrying all their ammunition on their horse and are three weeks hard riding from an armourer simplicity won!
My ancestors didn't even have armouries, and they were still able to use Winchester repeaters to good effect, hundreds of miles into the countryside, to hold off a numerically superior enemy between Idaho, Montana, and Canada...

As I said earlier, my evaluation of these weapons is purely based on my own knowledge of how they were used historically.

Conflicts they won. Thet they were not seriously challenged in. Sure tough if your the guys who do some perhaps unnecessary dying.
But the wider stregaic view it can be argued that the choise of rifle should be dictated by relatively small scale conflicts, that possible larger scale conflicts even if onlly theoritical were a more important in dictating arms choice.
Not all those victories were down to the choice of firearm by the US Army. For example, Joseph's people could have made it to Canada if they'd decided to leave the sick and elderly behind (some did, in fact, and made it across the border). But Joseph himself, and many of his followers, decided to halt the retreat, and surrendered to the US military. I would say that superior US numbers of fighting men, and fatigue on the part of the Nez Perce, did more to win the Battle of Bear Paw than the US Army's choice of firearm...
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,231
Sydney
one of the factor considered was that reloading a repeater was a long process during which there was a weakness
the Kaiser army doctrine was to shoot and reload on a one shot basis
switching to firing the whole magazine when thing got sticky
like when under a cavalry charge or in the case of the Pleven siege when the opponent assault was upon your works

The Stormtroopers of 1918 choose weapons with a large volume of fire for the assault of trenches
automatic pistols were much favored , their weaker cartrige and range wasn't much of an issue when the fight was meters away

while the technology was fast evolving the doctrine of use was uncertain
in fact the bayonet was considered a major rifle weapon until quite late
the British still train for it
 
Last edited:
May 2019
218
Earth
one of the factor considered was that reloading a repeater was along process during wich there was a weakness
the Kaiser army doctrine was to shoot and reload on a one shot basis
switching to firing the whole magazine when thing got sticky
Several models of bolt-action repeaters were manufactured with magazine cutoffs, specifically to follow that kind of doctrine. For example, the Lebel 1886. I believe a big concern for armies of the period was conserving ammunition in repeaters.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,654
Several models of bolt-action repeaters were manufactured with magazine cutoffs, specifically to follow that kind of doctrine. For example, the Lebel 1886. I believe a big concern for armies of the period was conserving ammunition in repeaters.
The British seem particular fans of the cut off, staying with it longer.
 
May 2019
218
Earth
The British seem particular fans of the cut off, staying with it longer.
Weren't they still using Enfields with cutoffs at the outbreak of WW1? In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it was during WW1 that they finally started doing away with that feature on their Enfields?
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,231
Sydney
The modern assault rifle have single shot or burst as function specially for this reason
single , deliberate shot is more accurate ,
wild firing tend to indicate a tendency toward panic mode

also while government might supply abundant ammunition ,
a company in a firefight might be limited to what each man carry with him
once the amo is gone , the modern rifle is as useful as a club